A letter from Sharon Bryant in Thailand
The old gospel hymn says, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” As I look back on 2012, I am truly amazed at what the Lord has done!
It was almost exactly one year ago when I finished my Thai language studies and began work at the Office of the Education Ministry of our partner church, the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT). Starting in a small office with an old desk and a battered cardboard box of old files, I began considering how to recruit Christian volunteers to come to work in the 26 schools of our partner church here, teaching English and witnessing to the love and grace of Christ to almost 60,000 students, over 80 percent of whom are not Christian. So, what has God done in just 12 short months?
Through a logo-design contest we sponsored early in the year, God discovered two talented young Thai students whose entries in that contest led to the development of our new logo. God also provided the resources we needed to build a website for the program that includes an online application for any who are interested in serving God through our schools here in Thailand. And it was through God’s bounty that we secured the resources we needed to print a small brochure that we can send out to churches and individuals who will help us recruit new volunteers. This aspect of our ministry was further blessed when 12 former CVT volunteers offered to help us recruit volunteers in the future. Please pray for our recruitment efforts here, that many Christians will give two years of their lives to serve God in this place.
God provided the resources through our partner church for me to visit all 26 schools of the CCT twice, evaluating the needs of the schools and training teachers. In addition to listening and counseling and encouraging them in their efforts, I was able to provide eight regional seminars for teachers to help with student motivation and learning styles. God also connected me with Dr. Phyllis Thompson of Eastern Tennessee University, who came to Thailand and delivered two one-day seminars on instruction for teachers and administrators of our schools. She did not charge any fees for these wonderful seminars, but the Office of Education Ministry of the CCT paid for her local travel and accommodations. Please pray that God will continue to provide resources as this ministry grows.
God also sent eight American college students on a six-week mission trip to Thailand as part of the New Wilmington Mission Conference Summer Service Team. As these eight college students traveled throughout Thailand, learning about the mission and ministry of the church here, they served as instructors in six one-day English Camps that touched the lives of over 600 Thai school children. They taught them about the ten nations of ASEAN, reviewed basic English concepts, and practiced new Christian songs and games with the children. Then they took the stories of their trip home with them to encourage others to come and see what God is doing in Thailand. Please pray that God will send more people on short-term mission ventures to see the work of the church here and share their stories.
This year God also called two incredible young Christian men to Thailand to serve as volunteers in our schools for the next two years. Rev. James Riggins, assigned to a school in northern Thailand, has already helped to start an English-language worship service at his local Thai church and gone on a mission trip to a village in a neighboring province. Trinh Hagedorn, assigned to a school in central Thailand, has hooked up with Thai university students at a local Christian university to help them with outreach to students who are not Christian, and he uses his basic knowledge of Mandarin Chinese to encourage Thai students in his school who are learning that language. They have both led morning devotions for teachers. And they are doing all this in addition to their primary responsibility of improving spoken English on the campus of their local Christian school. Please pray that God will strengthen and sustain these two young men as they serve as a witness to the love and grace of God in their communities.
Last, but certainly not least, God introduced me to a Thai woman—a seminary graduate—who is now working with me in the CVT program. Ms. Chonchineepan Ajarayangkun has been a blessing to me in so many ways: helping me to communicate more effectively across cultural barriers, enthusiastically interpreting the ministry of the volunteers, translating documents for our use, cranking out dozens of newsletters to keep school administrators and leaders in the church informed about our work, traveling with our New Wilmington team to deal with all aspects of their travel arrangements and translate for them during their six-week visit, etc. Please pray for Ms. Chonchineepan Ajarayangkun and her ministry with us here.
In 2013 I will be heading to the U.S.A. for my interpretation itineration assignment and I cannot wait to share the many stories of our work here and the opportunities that abound for those who wish to support this ministry. If your church or community group is interested in having me speak to them while I am in the U.S.A. next year, please contact me by email at email@example.com. Pray also for all the preparations for my itineration assignment that God will put me where I need to be and provide the stories that will touch people’s hearts.
We are decorating our homes and churches to celebrate our Savior’s birth and Christian children here are as excited as Christian children everywhere about the coming holiday activities. May the miracle of Christmas fill your hearts with love and your lives with hope during this holiday season. As for me, I have already been blessed with a visit from my son, Julian, who will stay through Christmas. Let me close by saying that it is an honor and a privilege to serve our Lord in Thailand. I could not do any of this without your letters, your prayers, your encouragement, and your unfailing generosity. Thank you.
Sharon L. Bryant
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 183
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 195